Paralysed by pregnancy

Heavily pregnant, Kirby woke up to a horrifying sight in the mirror.

Our eyes fixed intently on the screen as the sonographer scanned my neat little bump.

My partner Matt and I had psyched ourselves up for this, our 12-week scan.

‘You’re having twins,’ the sonographer said, casually.

‘’W-h-a-t?!’ we screamed in unison, facing each other, with shocked expressions.

Twins sounded good, though – excellent, in fact. ‘I think the sonographer thought we already knew,’ I laughed with Matt, 35, afterwards.

Before too long, we were back at the hospital for our 28-week scan. But the doctor wanted to speak to me.

‘You have what’s called a short or incompetent cervix,’ she explained.

‘This means your cervix opens, or dilates, too early during pregnancy and this increases the risk of going into premature labour.’

Because of this, I was kept in hospital for three weeks, so medics could monitor me and the twins.

Once I was discharged, I was told to rest for the next five weeks. Heaving myself into bed two days before I was due to be induced, I kissed Matt goodnight and tried to get comfortable.

‘Only two more days,’ said Matt, kissing my bump. But, the next morning, something felt very wrong.

The whole of the left side of my face felt frozen – so much so that I couldn’t close my left eye. Scared, I tried to shout to Matt.

‘Mu-e-att err ooo aw-a- ake?’ I slurred.

Why couldn’t I speak properly? Hearing my almost incomprehensible drivel, Matt looked at me in horror.

‘Kirby, what’s happened to your face?’ he screamed.

Looking in the mirror, I saw that the frozen side had also drooped. I looked like a gargoyle.

‘I’m taking you to hospital,’ Matt said, jumping out of bed.


Terrified I’d had a stroke, I was relieved when doctors told me it was Bell’s palsy – a temporary paralysis of the muscles, sometimes caused by a virus.

My prolonged bed rest and the stress of the pregnancy were the only possible causes doctors could suggest.

‘They said it won’t affect the twins,’ Matt soothed.

We were told to return the next day, when they’d give me an MRI scan to make sure everything was fine.

But the following morning, my face droop was so extreme that when I tried
to drink, my mouth couldn’t even grip the cup to slurp.

Back at hospital for my MRI scan, I was kept in overnight.

Every nurse who saw me asked, ‘What’s happened to your face, dear?’

‘B-e-l-l-s poorsy,’ I’d slur. But, it wasn’t just constantly explaining that was driving me mad.

I was unable to blink or close my left eye, raise the eyebrow or move the left side of my mouth at all.

I had to drink through a straw and wear a patch over my eye to avoid developing ulcers.

Wheeled into the delivery suite to be induced, I couldn’t see anything happening on my left side. Luckily, when I started pushing, the nurses said I could take the eye patch off. And at 11.56am, little Ruby was born, weighing 2.1 kilos. 

Just four minutes later, at noon, her sister, Mia, arrived, weighing 2.3 kilos. ‘They’re so magical,’ I managed to whisper to Matt.

(Credit: Supplied)

My face remained paralysed for four weeks, after which, thankfully, it went back to normal.

Four months on, apart from the odd twinge, my face is at least 95 per cent better now.

The twins are adorable and I’m so happy being a mum to two healthy little girls.

Now that everything has calmed down I’m just going to enjoy being the mum that I’ve always wanted to be.

See the full story in this week’s issue of that’s life! on sale now.


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